I am not sure if it’s just me, but is Antony becoming like Cleopatra? Just by the reading I’m pretty sure we are all in accordance with the fact that Antony is not the most responsible or resolute character that we meet in Antony and Cleopatra, but in my opinion now he’s becoming overtly lacking in realm of leadership and the skills that come with the title. Antony is listening to reason even less than Cleopatra, who we see talk all over everyone in the play. Antony is becoming like Cleopatra in this sense, and by not listening, he blurs his vision when making decisions about this war. In the scene where they decide to duke it out with Caesar at sea he needs a soldier, A SOLDIER, to inform him that taking on Caesar at sea is a sure defeat for Antony and Co. Antony, there really should not be a guy in the play that goes by “soldier” rather than by an actual name telling you what is best in your war.
I think Scarus was absolutely on point when he pretty much blamed Cleopatra for the defeat at sea, making her the jinx to Antony and his crew that Jessica Simpson was to Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys a few years ago.
If you are a member of team Egypt in this play, however, I think this is the point that you should start praying that Antony and Cleopatra become free agents and Enobarbus takes over. Enobarbus and Canidius can tell that Antony is not living up to his potential as a leader. Canidius even tells us that Cleopatra is the one wearing the pants when he responds this to the soldier who claims to think he is right for not wanting to take Caesar on at sea, “soldier, thou art, but his whole action grows not in the power on ‘t. So our leader’s led, and we are women’s men.” 3.7.85-88.*
Enobarbus also goes on to tell us that his love for Cleopatra is a detriment on his ability to make quality decisions. He says, “and I see still a dimunition in our captain’s brain restores his heart. When valor preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights with.” 3.13.248-241.* Enobarbus is pretty much saying that Cleopatra’s love for Antony is in an inverted relationship with his ability to reason. So while Enobarbus does not want to leave Antony’s side, he is kind of telling us that their love is an expense to everyone but them.
I almost forgot I was going to write about Octavia, because she is so easy to forget. I wish that Fulvia had half the lines that Shakespeare gives to Octavia; but instead we get to hear from the tool instead of the strong woman in this play. Octavia is a pawn, she seems oblivious and seems to need to be explained every little detail so she’s not lost in translation. Her I-don’t-get-it kind of nature forces me to ask myself sometimes, does this woman even know she’s in Rome?? She is merely an instrument to keep Antony and Caesar from one another’s necks. Once we see that the peace cannot be maintained either way, submissive Octavia just takes a backseat, and does not speak one more word for the entire act. Octavia, you’re a Caesar for god’s sake, act like one! I sure hope that in Acts 4 and 5 she will redeem herself in my eyes, because as it stands now, she and Antony are like neck and neck for the most foolish characters in this play.
* = the line number may differ in other editions of this play.
Posted by Ms. Taniqua B.